Islamabad, Oct 19 (IANS) A group of hunters, belonging to well placed political families, have slaughtered 40 Chinkara gazelles in Pakistan's Punjab province.
The incident in Bahawalpur area is thought to be one of the most serious wildlife massacres in Pakistan, the News International reported Tuesday.
Hunters use powerful spotlights mounted on their vehicles to confuse and seemingly paralyse the protected Chinkaras, which are subsequently shot at from close range.
Punjab wildlife department sources said they received information that some highly influential hunters, belonging to well connected and well placed political families of the region, have committed the crime.
A Punjab government spokesman said that an inquiry was under way to ascertain the facts.
Bollywood superstar Salman Khan had been jailed for hunting the Chinkara in neigbouring India in 1998. Salman was convicted of poaching a Chinkara at the Ghoda farm near Jodhpur on the night of Sep 28, 1998, while filming Sooraj Bharjatya's blockbuster 'Hum Saath Saath Hain'.
In Pakistan, there is a ban on the hunting of this species except in those rare cases where license is issued for restricted hunting.
Punjab Secretary for Wildlife Babar Hassan Bharwana said that he was approached by a hunter ten days back with the information that a large number of Chinkara have been illegally hunted.
Bharwana said he promptly told the director general of wildlife to ascertain the facts.
According to experts, a small number of Chinkara gazelles can be found in the Salt Range near Kalabagh and the Kala Chitta Hills.